Easy...I read books I expect to really enjoy! Why else take the time to read (or listen) to them.
But how can you rate a book like say The Kitchen House as highly as The Secret History of the Pink Carnation?
Again, easy. They are different genres. Think of it like food....how would you compare a great steak with a great pie? I wouldn't. I would appreciate each in it's own category. Like food, my book appetite varies. Consequently, my expectations start high (5) and if they meet my expectations, that's what they get. Rarely do books go below 'good' which means just that...I enjoyed them for what they are but...
Do you ever give anything less than a 'good' (3) rating?
Unfortunately, yes. It makes me sad when I do. Sometimes even angry. I've wasted time I could have spent with a book I could have really enjoyed! I wonder at my sanity...how could I not have seen before hand this would not meet my escapist need? Why didn't the person that wrote the blurb write the book? What happened to my writer who normally gives me so much pleasure?
One didn't ring, it clunked but I couldn't figure out why. It was after all, 'fiction'. Half way through the book, I read every review I could find; every interview. Everyone else liked it. What was I missing? I read some more. Still not likening it but still wanting to like it. Then I researched the historical foundation. I talked to my 90yo mom about human nature of her youth and what she had learn about what it was like for her parents. Now I knew why the story did ring for me.
FYI, it is permissible to dislike a book. It's also OK to write a negative review. Reviewers should try to explain why it was 'amiss' for them. Authors should not take personal affront as the review just one person's opinion about the book, not about the writer.
I really want to enjoy books I read! I want to share my excitement as I do! When I do get into one that does not come up to my expectations, I will share that with you...hopefully with good reasoning for my opinion and with the knowledge that I may be in the minority. Sometimes broccoli is really good, but some times it just tastes bad!